No, not a solo movie for X-Men‘s teleporting blue mutant Nightcrawler. This dark thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who lost 20 pounds to play the role of the sociopathic lead. But will the dramatic weight loss alongside the dramatic material equal a successful movie?

Lou (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a driven but disturbed young man living in LA. Looking for work he one night stumbles upon a car crash where he sees freelance film crews trying to get shots of the crash to sell to the TV stations. Lou instantly becomes inspired to do the same. But as Lou goes to extreme lengths to get better footage, his actions become increasing dangerous to those around him.

Pulling double duties on this film, Dan Gilroy’s direction and script are fantastic. Whether its Lou interacting in conversation by reciting lines learned from online business school or the frantic camera work as Lou tries to get the best shot of a devastating accident, it all works perfectly to capture the essence of Lou and his disturbed behaviour. Everything feels off about this guy. Because of this Gyllenhaal doesn’t have to resort to what other actors may do and give Lou ticks and quirks to show his abnormalities. It’s creepy enough just watching Lou smile as he tries to flirt (in his mind) with Rene Russo’s news director Nina. Gyllenhaal is mesmerizing as the sociopathic Lou. It’s probably the first time I’ve found Gyllenhaal to be completely repellent in a movie (which is exactly how Lou should be). There is no redeeming qualities to Lou but he is a fascinating character to watch.

Although Gilroy and Gyllenhaal work shines the most in this movie there’s also a great supporting role for Russo. There are some wonderful scenes throughout the movie between Lou and Nina that shows the power changes in their relationship. Both are exploiting crime scenes for their own personal gain and when you think Nina may show outrage at some of the footage Lou brings to her, her only concern is how to get it pass the censors. Bill Paxton, as a fellow ‘nightcrawler’ and Riz Ahmed as Lou’s desperate homeless assistant Rick also get strong moments in the movie as they interact with Lou and try not to get caught in the cross fire of his actions.

It’s hard to find fault with this movie but I will say that, unsurprisingly, it’s not exactly a feel-good movie. There’s hardly any likeable characters, and some viewers may find some of the crime scene footage upsetting (in particular one sequence which sees Lou entering the scene of a home invasion). But if you do want to give it a shot then  Nightcrawler may offer you a compelling and thought-provoking look into the dark corners of the media and human behaviour.

Rating 4.5/5 – dark and thrilling with a stand out performance from Jake Gyllenhaal


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9 responses to “Nightcrawler

  1. Works mostly because of how damn creepy Gyllenhaal is. Good review Lauren.

  2. I agree with every single thing you’ve said. And i loved the creepy power struggle between Gyllenhaal and Russo too.

    • Thanks. The scene between Gyllenhaal and Russo at the bar was very unnerving but fascinating to watch at the same time becuase you can see the power continously switching between them.

  3. Gyllenhaal’s weasel like smile, gaunt appearance & intense gaze is way too creepy… Easily his best work to date. And the movie is neat n slick too, one of year’s finest. Good review, Lauren.

  4. Great review Lauren, I’m glad you enjoyed this film. I LOVED this film and it was one of the most impressive films that I’ve seen, not only during the Autumn/Winter season, but of the entire year. I heard that the film was good from ealry reviews, however I didn’t think it was going to be that good just because films that have Oscar buzz tend to be a little overrated on most occasions. But this film was incredible, it had one of those kinds of stories that was super engaging and compelling from start to finish due to the nature of tv journalism and the potential realism that could apply to the real worl. Also Gyllenhaal, what a don. This was his best role to date, I couldn’t even see him, all I saw was the demented and corrupted individual that stole the show of this film. Russo was also excellent as well too.

    • Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed this film too. It was good to see Gyllenhaal in a completely different type of role and own it! Like you say, he completely embodied the role he was playing. I hope he gets nominated for an Oscar but maybe it will be too dark for them? It was also great having Russo in the film showing the side of the conniving tv stations. Thier scenes together were excellent.

  5. This was definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in theaters lately. Gyllenhaal gives a great performance, and he’s quietly becoming a consistently solid star. Almost all of his recent movies have been quite good, and even in the movies that aren’t quite what they could be, he does a really amazing job.

    • I agree Gyllenhaal seems to be making a lot of good and interesting choices since Prince of Persia bombed ages ago. Considering I hadn’t really seen him in a villianous role before he was excellent in this movie. Be interesting to see if he gets nominated for an Oscar or not.

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